The first garden gnome we meet in Gnomeo and Juliet said it best when he stands on the stage and boldly states, “It’s all quite entertaining.” And in speaking of the garden statues take on the William Shakespeare classic, this little gnome is most definitely speaking the truth.
This animated 3D feature – directed by Kelly Asbury – pulses to a charismatic soundtrack by the one and only Sir Elton John. It tells the tale of a intense family feud between the neighboring red gnomes and blue gnomes. And just as in Shakespeare’s uber important and influential play, a girl and a boy fall for each other, when they aren’t supposed to. Chaos, and in this case, chuckles ensue.
Fortunately for us all, especially our young children who we’ll surely take along for this wild ride, the writers did not stay true to Shakespeare’s original plot points. There is no suicide, poisoning and real dying to emotionally contend with. It’s one of those films that works on different levels delivering the goods for the toddlers, the kids, the teens, the adults and probably even your great grandma if she hip enough.
And there is a big thread of hip-ness that runs though this film. The kitchiness of the iconography of the garden gnomes is a delightful launching pad for a world of walking talking garden accessories from an over the top frog fountain to a deer statue voiced by the one and only Ozzy Obsorne. It has action, adventure and even a villainous mowing machine named the Terrafirminator. Yes, there is something for everyone.
This gnomey epic took eleven long years to come to fruition. A journey that Sir Elton John was part of from the start. But it was worth the wait. Elton John’s music really makes this world come alive with new renditions and reprises of classics like Saturday Night and Crocodile Rock but also with touching ballads like Love is Like a Garden, since as Elton John said himself “I’m really good at writing sad songs.” The film is visually gorgeous with bright powerful colors of the gnomes and the gardens lighting up the screen and that makes the film feel fresh and new even though some of the stars of the show, the gnomes, display telltale signs of wear and tear.
There are some irresistible things about the film. The sound of characters plaster bodies as they move and navigate through their gardens. The facial nuances and expressions of these once inanimate statues. The hand painted patina of the gnomes and of course the wonderful voice talents of Emily Blunt as the feisty Juliet and James McAvoy as the daring Gnomeo. They are a match made in gnomey heaven. Plus there are cameos by Patrick Stewart, Hulk Hogan and Dolly Parton. Now who could resist that.